Defense Lawyer: Cops Had Right To Execute Kelly Thomas For Disobeying Minor Commands

johnbarnettbaton.jpg
Media pool photograph by The Orange County Register
Barnett came out swinging in closing argument
When it was his turn yesterday afternoon to begin a closing argument in defense of his client--disgraced, fired Fullerton cop Manuel Ramos, defense lawyer John Barnett asked Orange County Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg for a brief delay so he could prepare for the monumental act he was about to undertake.

The pause after District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' presentation was understandable given that Barnett, who specializes in shielding accused dirty cops from accountability, needed to muster anger as a way to lure jurors away from the police brutality that ended Kelly Thomas' life in July 2011.

As soon as Froeberg handed Barnett the stage in front of the post-lunch, dazed jury, the Laguna Beach-based lawyer with a national reputation for cleverness pounced in the proverbial effort to transform stinking, rotten lemons into delicious lemonade.

Creating laughably implausible, alternate universes where Earth realities are suspended is, after all, why folks like Barnett get paid exorbitant, hourly legal fees, no?

And Barnett did not disappoint the police union bosses who fund his courtroom theatrics.

Though an unarmed Thomas committed no crime but landed savagely pummeled on an autopsy table at the age of 37 after his nightmarish encounter with six members of the Fullerton Police Department, a red-faced, seething Barnett expertly played the role of outraged advocate for, yes, truth and decency.

He gritted his teeth, stomped across the room, swung a baton, waved his arms, slammed note pages in his presentation script book, snarled repeatedly at Rackauckas and pointed affectionately at his client, who wears a wounded face in front of jurors but laughs and gives high-fives during breaks when the jury has left the room.

Barnett's physical moves coupled with sweet oratory that could have been uttered no more passionately by William Jennings Bryan ridiculing evolution at a monkey trial.

"This case is not about a bully cop," Barnett declared. "He did everything he could to keep the community safe . . . He's just not guilty."

I've stopped counting the times I've witnessed Barnett perform in court but none of them were more electrifying.

In contrast, Rackauckas' earlier, three-hour closing never came close to rocking the jury, but what the DA lacks in speaking skills he made up with logic.

He has on his side an undeniable truth that all of Barnett's hocus pocus can't erase unless jurors are suckers: an unarmed Thomas began the encounter at the Fullerton Transportation Center alive and minutes later was lying in a massive pool of his own blood, unconscious, horrifically damaged and on a fast track to the morgue.

To Rackauckas and the crafters of California law, Ramos had "a duty" to not subject Thomas to unreasonable or excessive force during the detention. That makes common sense. But video and audio footage of the killing shows jelly-belly officer Ramos obnoxiously swinging and poking his baton at the schizophrenic Thomas, antagonizing him, threatening to "fuck" him up with his fists, viciously attacking for more than seven minutes and then callously standing over the near-lifeless body without rendering any lifesaving aid.

For Barnett, who, as a criminal defense lawyer is allowed to fib his rear end off in court, the DA's expectations of Ramos' conduct with Thomas are "nonsense" and "absurd."

Besides, according to him, Ramos showed nothing but sincere, loving compassion for Thomas during several prior years and even on the night of the killing.

"[My client] is not involved at all [in the cause of Thomas' death]," Barnett asserted. "He didn't do any of this killing stuff."

So, according to the defense, why did the group of cops punch, kick, knee, stomp, Taser blast and crush numerous bones in Thomas' face with the butt of a Taser gun?

Ignoring plain evidence that Thomas did not initiate violence during the fatal incident, Barnett insists that Ramos and the other responding officers had no choice but to use deadly force because the unarmed homeless had displayed "spontaneous" acts of aggression against family members in years past.

"Officer Ramos had a right to do exactly what he was doing," said Barnett, who wants jurors to ignore the fact that Thomas' alleged crime--taking a few pieces of discarded mail from a trashcan--wasn't a crime.

Here is where the defense makes its most troubling reach. According to them, cops in California have the right to beat a citizen to death if, like Thomas, they don't state their name and don't fully obey commands to keep their hands on their knees during a detention.

All Thomas had to do to remain alive was to "follow simple, direct orders" from a kind, compassionate, professional cop, Barnett reasoned.

Take a moment to ponder the police state sentiment--disobey a minor cop order and face gory death--that this cop lawyer is asking the jury to sanction.

Closing arguments continue today.

See also: The Complete Kelly Thomas Killing Archives

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.

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43 comments
SwEtMsry
SwEtMsry

"All Thomas had to do to remain alive was to "follow simple, direct orders" from a kind, compassionate, professional cop, Barnett reasoned." ----- The funny thing is.. people think this guy is a great lawyer... and he truly BLOWS. He's about as brilliant of a lawyer as Tony Rack.  Who had the passion of a PET ROCK.  Cover ups, mobster money, etc does NOT make one a good lawyer.  His arguments were actually STUPID.  For the record.  

rchambers25
rchambers25

I'll bet he approves of lynching also !

dkmomemtp
dkmomemtp

"I HATE THIS GUY"! IS HE SERIOUS IN HIS THINKING THAT IT WAS KELLY'S FAULT THESE EVIL PIG'S KILLED HIM? KELLY DID NOTHING WRONG! NONE OF US WOULD FEEL SAFE AFTER ANY SCUMMY COP PUTS GLOVES ON AND SAYS THESE HANDS ARE GOING TO FUCK YOU UP!!!!!! RAMOS YOUR ON THE WAY TO JAIL AND YOUR GOING TO BE SOMEONES BIACCCCHHHHHH

ipooponamerika
ipooponamerika

I've actually worked with Barnett many times and ALWAYS felt the need to SHOWER immediately afterwards.

Disgusting.

Ro Ar
Ro Ar

Yeah good luck with that argument

OCCOPWATH.COM
OCCOPWATH.COM

Interesting the comments on here. People saying don't paint all cops with the same brush, there are good cops out there too! 


Really, then F**king prove it. Let's see some good cops report on and arrest the ones that are "bad".


NEVER HAPPENS! This is why they get painted with the broad brush. They always protect their co-workers no matter what. (which makes them bad)


This will force the public to take matters into their own hands.

OCCOPWATH.COM
OCCOPWATH.COM

I ALMOST THINK THE DA AND POLICE ARE BAITING THE PUBLIC TO RIOT.

Just like the police think we are baiting them when we video their every move.

imgrammadee
imgrammadee

Is this guy CRAZY????  The cops had "the right" to "EXECUTE" Kelly for NOT obeying "minor" commands???  So does that mean the cops have the "right" to 'EXECUTE' any offenders who disobey "minor" commands????

oncefallendotcom
oncefallendotcom

It must really pain Tony the Tigress to have to prosecute this case. After all this has put a big dent in his plans to run for state AG. He already pushed s*x offender park bans so he had the perfect springboard set up, and now this police brutality case came along. 

Bill Gurney
Bill Gurney

So when this Lawyer disobeys a Judges demand, they should execute the Lawyer?

Unit F
Unit F

boy you talk about grasping for straws....they kill when they want to, and subdue and restrain....um, when they feel like it. And given the paramilitary mindset of the growing number of roid raging rouges, they don't often feel like it....

Rory Murray
Rory Murray

Barnett is so full of shit, his breath stinks.

Jeff Rey
Jeff Rey

disgusting! cant wait to hear the murderers have been sentenced to life in prison with no parole and "accidentally" wind up in general population in prison with some of those theyve mishandled :)

Joey Callo
Joey Callo

Lol this piece of shit better win with all this idiotic shit he's spewing because if he doesn't his career is over hahahahaha XD

Anthony 'Ace' Leon
Anthony 'Ace' Leon

So u saying fucking cops had to right to killed him well then if that is issue then we don't any police force in our nation we just do our self's then I'm telling you right now we don't want other rodney king riot cause it will happen again and when that happen it won't be same trust me this it will happen we do have a power to do this remember the 1965 riot and then again in 1992 and third is coming if these fucking cops go free even our town Fullerton.

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

This kind of shit goes on, on a daily basis in the OC and across the whole USA in fact. The only reason this event has garnered the attention and the firing and eventual prosecution of these two murderers is because of mass public outcry. If we don't stay vigilant and hold DA's ac countable to protect the public even from killer cops, then we will have a police state enforced by the lies of Todd Spitzer. The public must be acutely aware that the very nature of Police work and the push for more arrests and asset forfeitures creates an incentive for police officers to break the law and violate the rights of citizens. POBRA is a major threat to public safety and must be done away with.

alexandra_dreyer
alexandra_dreyer

Completely outrageous. How can these people look at themselves without pure shame and disgust?

Dave Tucker
Dave Tucker

Was this the same Barnett that was also a judge in this county at one time?

949girl
949girl topcommenter

Unfortunately I don't see the jury unanimously convicting the officers. 

Aaron Roach
Aaron Roach

Once again we see this argument, that if only this schizophrenic person had acted rationally, the police wouldn't have to kill him. Who do we want to hold to a higher standard in this encounter?

Ron Aglio
Ron Aglio

This attorney needs his ass kicked

Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor

Actually, a quick scan of police brutality cases across the US shows that this is indeed what police and their enablers (like this scumbag Barnett) think. Even more shocking, THIS IS HOW THEY THINK THINGS OUGHT TO BE. Cops should be able to execute anybody who disrespects them, disobeys a minor command, etc. The totalitarian mindset in a nutshell. What are we going to do about this?

tiscarenomatthew
tiscarenomatthew

When the not guilty verdicts are read I hope you people are asking Rackauckas to resign his head D.A position ...

ipjd2000
ipjd2000

So what happened to the other 4 goons (cops) that stood by doing nothing?  Hopefully they were at minimum fired.

BBAIN
BBAIN

Great job on the coverage guys!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed on the outcome.  I love it - nothing says compassion quite like "These fists are getting ready to f*** you up."

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@imgrammadee  

I think that's it, in a nutshell...emphasis on "nuts". Of course, the defense team also had the gall to say that because Kelly Thomas was going to "die anyway" their clients didn't commit murder when they bludgeoned the life out of him. Both arguments set a very dangerous precedent...

fc2479
fc2479

@paullucas714 You are clueless....you can't paint all cops as killer cops.  There are good as well as bad cops, just like in society there are good and bad individuals.  Do bad things happen from time to time with law enforcement, yes.  The reason being that there are humans working in law enforcement and eventually will make mistakes.  Maybe if we had robots as cops mistakes would not occurr. If you don't like the Police in America may i suggest you try living in Mexico or the Soviet Union and some other third world countries.  You want to see out of control go there.  For the most part if you Dial 911 anywhere in America someone will show up. People in America are just too spoiled to know when they have a good thing.  

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@paullucas714 You seem to have all the answers and know the solution to all the ills of society.  Why don't you rush right down to the Fullertion Police Department and get your application in to become a Police Officer?  If by some stretch of the imagination, you were able to pass the qualifying prerequsites you could then put all your social theories to practice on the streets.  It would take about a week, before the "street people," criminals and gang bangers would have your ass for lunch.  It is easy to sit on the sidelines, shoot off your mouth and point the finger of accusation at Cops, but get in the trenches with the men and women in blue and it might be a different story.  Of course, we know that won't happen because you don't have the balls to do that kind of job?  

roman_archer
roman_archer

When the guilty verdicts are read I hope you people will be asking tiscarenomatthew to resign his position as head of the Manuel Ramos fan club.

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@ltpar@paullucas714 Thank you for illustrating for us the Us V Them attitude you guys have Pat. POBRA is a weapon used against the citizens of a free society and it must be done away with. You guys mostly harm yourselves in single car auto accidents. Your defense of these murderers is telling.

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@ltpar@paullucas714 pat thank you for illustrating for the Us v Them attitude you bozos with guns badges and inflated egos have now a days. Dick. POBRA is a weapon against a free society. It must be abolished. So fuck you Pat.

roman_archer
roman_archer

Geez itpar, with all your crude references to "eating ass" and "balls", might I suggest that your post would be more suitable to the "black dildo" article? And to you Paul Lucas, whatever you do, stay out of the "trenches" with police at all cost! A trench would give a police officer the perfect cover to beat you senseless.

949girl
949girl topcommenter

@paullucas714@949girlI agree.  But I really don't that all 12 people will vote to convict.  At least one person will think the officers responses were justified. 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@ltpar@paullucas714  

I don't hate the police, nor the idea of law enforcement. The problem lies with the fact that most bad cops don't take responsibility for their deplorable actions and generally face little if any punishment for abusing their authority. Like I said before: "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (Who watches the watchmen?)

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@paullucas714 @ltpar Not defending anyone in this case, or denying there are Cops out there who should not be wearing a badge. In this case, the jury will speak and justice will be administered.  What I do defend however, is the broad brushing by the anti-police people of the dedicated men and women honorably doing the job, saving lives and helping the people they serve.  You guys need to ask yourselves, what would society be like without the police?    

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@paullucas714 @ltpar If you knew anything at all about POBRA you would know most of it's provisions are put in place to protect Officers from internal Police Department abuses resulting from Supervisors and Managers using discipline to intimidate employees.  In the old days before POBRA, the end justified the means and it was used freely with anyone Management didn't like.  With POBRA in place, Officers can still be disciplined when appropriate, but there are rules, regulations and a process which must be followed.  Externally, in a Criminal Investigation, the Cops have no more rights than any other person charged with a crime.  The only difference is that Officers are held to a higher standard of conduct from Day One on the job and the Jury will have been told that in the Fullerton Case.  What they do with that knowledge, remains to be seen?    

roman_archer
roman_archer

Of what you see, or of what you hope? Judging by your continued posts supporting two cold blooded killers, I suspect the latter.

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